The fifth installment of Fantasia takes place at Rhinoceropolis this weekend, starting Friday, September 9, and running through Sunday, September 11. At its heart, Fantasia is an art show but one where the form of art isn't cast in the traditional art gallery or exhibition mode.
When the event launched, it was a showcase for the release of an album by organizer Colin Ward's musical project Alphabets, but of course it wasn't just an album release show, since it included a rich visual element provided by Ward. The 2011 incarnation of Fantasia was as a video-art show, and in 2012 the event evolved into something more.
“[Fantasia] is a large-scale installation-based performance-art [festival],” say Ward and Rhinoceropolis cohort Madeline Johnston in a statement on the event. “The theme of Fantasia has always been nature. And nature doesn't and won't necessarily have one or any theme. Rather then [sic] drawing inspiration from the art worlds of museums and/or basic music festivals, Fantasia 2016 aims to inspire a core group of artists to collectively install sculptural multi-media exhibits and performances. Much of Fantasia relies on contributing artists' aspiring to awaken the inner-[creator] and to submit, act out, build and perform work and ideas which they themselves haven't quite pulled off yet in their art and/or sound practice.”
The organizers transform the inside of Rhinoceropolis to be an experience itself — not a place to come in and just look at the artwork and move along to the next piece. As such, each night of Fantasia 2016 has a different focus with different offerings.
On Friday, September 9, attendees will get to see the chimes, chandeliers, a sculpture garden, murals, a spa installation and performance, and a plethora of other visual art. There will be a vendors and a nail salon. Also, Alice Winter will be administering hand-poked tattoos. “Hand-poked tattoos have a pretty big stigma since people think that they're 'unsanitary' and 'poorly done' tattoos,” says Winter. “I use all professional and sterile equipment, needles, and tattoo ink that I get from a local shop in Denver. I use proper needles to get thick, bold lines to make sure that that tattoo I'm working on looks solid. I first started doing tattoos about two years ago when I lived in NYC, simply because I was already making art and really wanted more tattoos, so I figured I'd try it myself. My roommate and a few of my friends really liked what I was doing and that's when I first started tattooing other people. Now it's just extremely satisfying to sit down and put some ink into someone's skin. Whether what they want has meaning or not, it's still a very beautiful thing to me.”
Saturday, September 10, will be the main musical event of Fantasia, and much of the installation and visual art will be gone. But attendees will get to see Body Meat, DJ Pop CTRL, as well as New York-based experimental rock band Guerilla Toss. The latter somehow redefines what punk looks and sounds like but also blurs the line between that aesthetic and improvisational music. Following those performances will be a rave into the night featuring DJ Catdog, DJ Drop Shadow, Tucans, DJ Roku Roku, 2kwateva and Drawblood.
The final night of Fantasia on September 11 is a combination video-art showcase and musical performances from artists with a multi-media component to their shows. The video artists include the Vid Kidz, Stephan Herrera, Colin Ward, Laura Conway, Anna Winter, Coleman Mummery, David Winkler and Kim Shively. Some may know Shively for her work on the 2008 documentary Wesley Willis' Joyrides and her The Existential Beaver series. Shively will not only help installation artist Alicia Ordahl with her spa piece on the first night of Fantasia but she will show a short collage video. “[It] combines imagery from websites advertising new development in the [RiNo] area along with material from fashion mags and 'fake' nature imagery.” The video will be a commentary of sorts on the way development has had a deleterious effect on Rhinoceropolis' neighborhood.
Performing Sunday night is Kevin Greenspon, an experimental electronic artist who has toured extensively for years, often much of the calendar year, including many stops through Denver with his always-fascinating multi-media presentations. “This year I've been working with a completely new setup designed to make and program music and video with a flexible combination of pre-conceived ideas and on-the-fly scenarios that may not come out exactly the same again the next night,” says Greenspon. “The idea behind this setup is that the audio and the video are feeding off each other in tandem, reacting to the sounds and sights of the venue I'm in as well as my voice using cameras, microphones and projectors. Fantasia is an ideal environment: an immersive, surreal re-imagining of a familiar place coated in an aural and visual landscape that won't be the same again the next time you're back. A creative in-your-face distraction from the daily distractions that keep us from being creative.”
Kevin Greenspon | Human Resources | Los Angeles | 2016
Video artist Curt Heiner, long associated with local bands like the defunct Kevin Costner Suicide Pact, will team up with Madeline Johnston for a unique Sister Grotto performance using two projection loops, allowing him to change and control the tempo and rhythm of the film to perform in his own way alongside Johnston. Heiner first collaborated with Johnston on visuals for her album You Don't Have To Be A House To Be Haunted but for this show it will be a new synchronous performance. “Initially I got involved with Fantasia because Madeline asked me to accompany her set, and I'm always jumping at the opportunity to be involved with her performance,” says Heiner. “I think our aesthetics match up really well, but also I just simply think she makes some absolutely beautiful music.”
Fantasia 2016 Schedule
(All events all-ages, at Rhinoceropolis 3551 Bright Boulevard, unless otherwise noted.)
Friday | September 9
9 p.m. | $5 suggested donation
Chimes & chandeliers, sculpture garden, murals, visuals, video art, environmental soundscapes, installation-based performances.
Doom Posi Shop (T-shirts, prints, stickers, zines)
Nail salon by Don't Be So Cuticle
Drawblood by Alice Winter (handpoked tattoos)
Music provided by Alien Abduct and DJ Don'tGoJasonWaterFalls
Saturday | September 10
9 p.m. | $10 | Enter at Club Scum or Rhinoceropolis
Main Stage at Club Scum
Guerilla Toss, Body Meat and DJ Pop CTRL
Club Zebra Rave with DJ Catdog, DJ Drop Shadow, Tucans, DJ Roku Roku, 2kwateva and Drawblood
Sunday | September 11
7 p.m. | $5 suggested donation
Videos by: The Vid Kidz, Stephan Herrera, Colin Ward, Laura Conway, Anna Winter, Coleman Mummery, David Winkler and Kim Shively
Multi-media performances at Glob 9 p.m.
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Kevin Greenspon, Dugout Canoe + Paper Bark, Sister Grotto with accompanying visuals by Kevin Greenspon, Anton Krueger and Curt Heiner.
A peek inside Rhinoceropolis, where a pre-existing Thomas Scharfenberg mural is being incorporated into the installation. Scharfenberg also contributed new work to Fantasia 2014.
Photo courtesy Thomas Scharfenberg